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Cockrell School Names New Director for Center for Transportation

Chandra Bhat has been named director of the Center for Transportation Research (CTR) at The University of Texas at Austin.

Chandra Bhat

Chandra Bhat

Bhat, a professor in the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering, assumed the role of director on Sept. 1. He is the fourth director in the history of the center, which was founded in 1963.

CTR is a nationally recognized research organization focusing on transportation research, education, workforce development and technology commercialization. The center brings in approximately $15 million in research funding annually, develops numerous safety innovations, and influences transportation policy on the state and national level.

"Chandra is an accomplished educator and researcher who has made many significant contributions to transportation research, technologies and policy making," said Gregory L. Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. "His combination of advanced research skills and practical experience will position CTR to meet tomorrow's transportation challenges."

As director of CTR, Bhat oversees an extensive research portfolio that addresses many aspects of transportation, including traffic congestion relief, transportation policy, environmental and energy impacts and driver behavior. He leads a staff of about 80 faculty researchers, 20 professional researchers, and more than 50 graduate and undergraduate students.

"My efforts will focus on building up CTR's recognition and reach, not only within the state, but nationally and internationally," Bhat said. "I see huge opportunities in policy, technology and linking our research to the needs of society."

Bhat, who has served on the faculty at the Cockrell School since 1997, obtained his Ph.D. from Northwestern University and his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He is a leading expert in the areas of travel demand modeling and travel behavior analysis. His research has resulted in more than 150 refereed journal articles.

He has spoken to USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, MSNBC News and ABC News, as well has been featured in local and national publications.

Bhat is a member of the university's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, UT Austin. He has received the S.S. Steinberg Award from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association; the Wilbur S. Smith Distinguished Transportation Educator Award; and the James Laurie Prize awarded by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Bhat succeeds Randy B. Machemehl who joined the center as director in 1999.

Under Machemehl's guidance, CTR's annual research revenue increased from $7 to $16 million. He also helped prepare more than 100 students annually for positions in government, academia and private industry.

"Dr. Machemehl successfully balanced his academic schedule of teaching and mentoring with the challenges of leading CTR at a time of great change and did so with diligence, consistency, fairness and respect for everyone he dealt with, including sponsors, colleagues, staff and students," said Sharon Wood, chair of the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering.